WENATCHEE, Wash. – Roger Pepperl, who for the past 20 years has worked as marketing director of Stemilt Growers, is retiring. Pepperl ends a 40-year career as a produce marketer and, before that, as a retail buyer and merchandiser.

The development of the Lil Snappers kid-size fruit brand and A Half Mile Closer to the Moon cherries are just a few examples of Pepperl’s success stories while at Stemilt, said West Mathison, Stemilt’s president.

“Roger never ceases to amaze me with his innovative mind and ability to create brands and programs that benefit the grower, the retailer, and the consumer,” Mathison said. “My family and I cannot thank him enough for the work he’s done to transform our company into a recognized brand. His retirement is well-deserved, and I can’t wait to hear about his journey in this next chapter.”

Pepperl joined Stemilt after a 21-year tenure in produce at Meijer in Michigan. He bought cherries from Stemilt and worked alongside Stemilt founder Tom Mathison to become the first retailer to merchandise cherries in catch-weight bags. The innovation transformed how the cherry industry sells fruit today.

“Roger was like my grandfather, Tom, in so many ways,” Mathison said. “He wasn’t afraid to try something new at retail, as long as it meant selling more and never sacrificing quality. His gift to see things that others cannot see has been inspiring.”

In addition to working for Stemilt, Pepperl volunteered his time and passion on committees and boards for United Fresh, the Produce Marketing Association, and the Produce for Better Health Foundation. Pepperl was the first-ever recipient of United Fresh’s FreshMKT Achievement Award in 2017, among many other awards.